Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anti-Semitism is a light sleeper. Look at Agatha Christie

I agree that antisemitism is a light sleeper.  It suffuses the British Left to this day. See  here (scroll down) and here and here and here and here and here.  But I don't think there is anything significant in the antisemitism of Agatha Christie.  She was simply a person of her time.  And the whole world (more or less) was antisemitic before WWII.  Do I have to refer to FDR sending Jewish refugees from Hitler back to Germany?  Christie didn't know any better.  The modern-day Left should

It should also be remarked that not all antisemitism is the same.  At the height of the British Empire there were laws in Britain restricting what Jews could do.  And Britons generally at that time thought that the British were clearly a superior race.  Yet the British Conservative party elected as their leader a man most unapologetic about his "Hebrew" origins -- Disraeli.  And Disraeli had a most distinguished subsequent career as British Prime Minister.  As Bismarck said:  "Der alte Jude.  Das ist der Mann". ("The old Jew.  That's the man").

So compare antisemitism among conservatives with the antisemitism of the socialist Hitler. Anybody who can't see a huge difference isn't thinking.  It's the hate that makes the difference and hate is what makes you a Leftist -- JR

In reflections on Perspectives: The Mystery of Agatha Christie – in which David Suchet, the most popular of all Hercule Poirots, looked at her famous disappearance in 1926 – Matthew Sweet wonders why Christie’s work is so unexamined.  She was always pretty political in her way. As a child I was perplexed by the intrusion into her later books of her burning resentment of high taxes.  And because my parents deplored anti-Semitism, I noticed jarring anti-Jewish references in some of those she published pre-war.

Christie’s anti-Semitism was not eradicated by the horrors of the Holocaust, though it no longer disfigured her books. Sweet recalls Christopher Hitchens describing dinner chez Christie in the 1960s, when "the anti-Jewish flavour of the talk was not to be ignored or overlooked, or put down to heavy humour or generational prejudice. It was vividly unpleasant."

She was, of course, by no means alone.  I’ve been reading the canon of that fine crime-writer, Cyril Hare, a judge whose Tragedy at Law is both a superb puzzle and a marvellous guide to the almost unbelievable pomposity of an untrammelled bench. It’s the casual anti-Semitism in dialogue that gets one, eg, the throw-away description of someone as a "sub-Aryan". Yet Christie and Hare were decent, civilised, well-read people who abhorred cruelty.

I’ve three thoughts on this. Firstly, looking at the anti-Semitism that so often  lurks under the guise of anti-Zionism, we should remember Conor Cruise-O’Brien’s description of anti-Semitism as “a light sleeper”.  The language may have changed, but the instincts remain.

Secondly, is it because of the contempt of the intelligentsia for crime writers that so little attention has been paid to the politics of so important and influential a writer as Christie?
And, thirdly, the call for retrospective censorship is always stupid: there’s no better way to understand the fears and prejudices of any period than by reading its unexpurgated fiction.



Obama falsely claims credit for America's energy boom

Stealing conservative talking points is what Obama does.  He got the idea from Tony Blair. He is all talk, however.  He does nothing to implement conservative policies

During the Friday event at which President Obama announced $2 billion in new green energy subsidies, he erroneously credited his administration's "all of the above" energy policy for the nation's increased oil and gas production. "We produce more oil than we have in 15 years," he said. "We import less oil than we have in 20 years. We're producing more natural gas than we ever have before -- with hundreds of thousands of good jobs to show for it."

The numbers and facts that Obama cited were all correct. But his claim is still false, unless he can somehow claim credit (and we wouldn't necessarily put it past him) for placing massive shale deposits below ground stretching from Texas to North Dakota and from the mountain West to western Maryland.

Obama's energy policy has done nothing positive for the current boom in the "unconventional" (shale and tar sands) oil and gas extraction industry -- a boom that has providentially boosted employment, improved the nation's balance of trade, and probably saved the incumbent president from defeat last November. Further, Obama's policy has actually reduced oil and gas production on federal lands, where it genuinely falls under Obama's power. A recent study by the Congressional Research Service found that all of the increased production from fiscal years 2007 to 2012 took place on nonfederal lands.

Between fiscal 2010 and 2012, total U.S. oil production rose by about 1.1 million barrels per day. U.S. production will likely eclipse that of Saudi Arabia by the end of the decade. Natural gas production is an even bigger story. It rose by 20 percent during the same period, driving down prices and revolutionizing the way Americans generate their electricity. This all comes thanks to advances in technology and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

During the same period, oil and gas production on federal lands fell sharply, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of production. Federal lands accounted for more than a quarter of U.S. gas production as recently as 2009, but in 2012 made up only 15 percent. Federal offshore gas production in 2012 was less than half what it was in 2007.

Obama has made no secret of his goal of getting America off oil completely. His latest plan to subsidize green energy is funded by $2 billion in fees on oil and gas companies. He announced in his Saturday radio address that his goal is to "shift our cars and trucks off of oil for good."

How much more important will American oil production have to become to the health of the economy before Obama gives up on his ideologically charged defiance of economics and embraces oil and gas as the fuels of America's next century?



What DOES lead to black success

 Thomas Sowell

A remarkable book titled Gifted Hands tells the personal story of Benjamin Carson, a black kid from the Detroit ghetto who went on to become a renowned neurosurgeon.

At one time young Ben Carson had the lowest grades in his middle school class, and was the butt of teasing by his white classmates. Worse yet, he himself believed that he was just not smart enough to do the work.

Fortunately for him, his mother, whose own education went no further than the third grade, insisted that he was smart. She cut off the television set and made him and his brother hit the books--books that she herself could scarcely read.

As young Ben's school work began to catch up with that of his classmates, and then began to surpass that of his classmates, his whole view of himself and of the wider world around him began to change. He began to think that he wanted to become a doctor.

There were a lot of obstacles to overcome along the way, including the fact that his mother had to be away from time to time for psychiatric treatment, as she tried to cope with the heavy pressures of trying to raise two boys whose father had deserted the family that she now had to support on a maid's wages.

In many ways the obstacles facing young Ben Carson were like those faced by so many other youngsters in the ghetto. What was different was that he overcame those obstacles with the help of a truly heroic mother and the values she instilled in him.

It is an inspiring personal story, told plainly and unpretentiously, including the continuing challenges he faced later as a neurosurgeon operating on the brains of people with life-threatening medical problems, often with the odds against them.

To me it was a personal story in another sense, that some of his experiences as a youngster brought back experiences that I went through growing up in Harlem many years earlier.

I could understand all too well what it was like to be the lowest performing child in a class. That was my situation in the fourth grade, after my family had moved up from the South, where I had been one of the best students in the third grade -- but in a grossly inferior school system.

Now I sometimes found myself in tears because it was so hard to try to get through my homework.

But in one sense I was much more fortunate than Ben Carson and other black youngsters today. The shock of being in a school, whose standards were higher than I was able to meet at first, took place in an all-black school in Harlem, so that there was none of the additional complications that such an experience can have for a black youngster in a predominantly white school.

By the time I first entered a predominantly white school; I had already caught up, and had no trouble with the school work. Decades later, in the course of running a research project, I learned that the Harlem school, where I had so much trouble catching up, had an average IQ of 84 back when I was there.

In the predominantly white school to which I later went, I was put in a class for children with IQs of 120 and up, and had no trouble competing with them. But I would have been totally wiped out if I had gone there two years earlier -- and who knows what racial hang-ups that might have led to?

Chance plays a large part in everyone's life. The home in which you are raised is often a big part of luck being on your side or against you. But you don't need parents with Ph.D.’s to make sure that you make the most of your education.

The kinds of things that statisticians can measure, such as family income or parents' education, are not the crucial things. The family's attitude toward education and toward life can make all the difference.

Virtually everything was against young Ben Carson, except for his mother's attitudes and values. But, armed with her outlook, he was able to fight his way through many battles, including battles to control his own temper, as well as external obstacles.

Today, Dr. Benjamin Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon at a renowned institution, Johns Hopkins University. But what got him there was wholly different from what is being offered to many ghetto youths today, much of which is not merely futile but counterproductive.



The Cyprus Cash Grab - Coming to America?

 Neal Boortz remembers

You were shocked - SHOCKED, you say - at the very idea that the government of Cyprus would order banks to seize 10% of every bank account and hand the money over the government? Well … excuse me for being rude, but maybe if you had been spending a better part of the last 20 years paying attention to the atrocities that happen with nauseating regularity in Washington, instead of going into an annual swoon over March Madness and/or the Oscars, or blindly tuning in to Entertainment Tonight every evening rather than an actual newscast, you might have seen this money grab coming. I’m no rocket surgeon, and I saw it coming (in America, not Cyprus) and I been warning the listeners to my talk show from 1993 right up until my retirement two months ago.
It’s simple. Taxing your income is simply not enough. The left is coming after your wealth. They’ll be satisfied with some of your retirement funds … for now.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Cyprus story, here’s your short version: Cyprus is in financial trouble. The Cypriot government is led by communists. Trade unions are fighting austerity programs needed to erase huge deficits. Sound familiar? That is similar to the situation in the United States in more ways that you might imagine. So Cyprus did what every other troubled Eurozone country is doing: went to the Eurozone finance commissioners for a bailout. The commissioners said fine, but as a condition of the bailout Cyprus must levy a 10% tax against the outstanding balance in all depository accounts in Cyprus banks. Call it a tax. Or call it stealing. Either way, every Cypriot depositor loses 10% of their account. The government screws up, the people pay. Again, it sounds so very familiar.

Oddly enough, the people of Cyprus weren’t particularly elated over this move, nor were investors and citizens throughout the Eurozone. Imagine that! Cypriots immediately grabbed their ATM cards and started to withdraw as much money as they could from their accounts. Cash in their hands wouldn’t be hit for 10%. It was clear there would be a run on the banks as soon as they reopened. Now the plan to simply seize individual wealth is being delayed, though not abandoned.

Could it happen here? Well certainly it could. Congress could pass and the President could sign legislation calling for the seizure of 10% of every checking and savings account in every bank in America. This might finally be enough to cause a resurrection, but they could do it. So in America the wealth seizure has to be just a bit more selective and subtle. And that brings us to the warning I’ve been voicing for 20 years.

Go back to 1993. Bill Clinton has just been sworn in. The Democrats are running the show. They’ve passed a nice little tax increase – retroactive, mind you – and they feel encouraged. Along comes a lady by the name of Alicia Munnell. She’s been appointed by Clinton to be an Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Development. Munnell proposes a plan to come up with some cash to shore up Social Security. Not everyone, it seems, is “fortunate” enough to have a nice little IRA or 401k retirement account. Why this just isn’t fair! Everyone should have a comfortable retirement, not just the people who actually planned and worked for one! So Munnell proposed to Clinton an idea! Let’s just go out there and seize 15% of the outstanding balance of every IRA and 401k. Seize that money and pump it into the Social Security system. As it turns out, Munnell and Clinton never really had the chance to put their plan into action since the very next year the Republicans took control of the House and the Senate in the voter revolution of 1994. Munnell hasn’t gone away though. She now hatches her wealth seizure and redistribution schemes as the Director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Never fear .. the idea is alive. House and Senate Democrats are even now toying with various plots to seize retirement and pension plans and pour them into some grand new government operated and controlled pension system .. a system that would be “fair” to everyone. This is just a perfect scenario for Obamian class warfare. “Those rich people are enjoying their fat-cat retirements with the money that should have been used to pay workers a living wage. They steal a comfortable retirement from the middle class and laugh at them from their yachts and private jets.” Yeah … that works. And as you should know, the government would certainly do a better job providing for American’s retirements than could free people interacting in a system of economic liberty.

Cyprus? I hope you enjoy that spectacle as it unfolds. Shake your heads and tsk tsk all you like. Just remember … the Democrat party is watching this episode and celebrating. You’re next.




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